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Mom wants adults with Down syndrome to have priority access to COVID-19 vaccine

In this July 12, 2016 photo, Sam Suchmann, left, and Mattie Zufelt speak during an interview with an AP reporter.
In this July 12, 2016 photo, Sam Suchmann, left, and Mattie Zufelt speak during an interview with an AP reporter. AP Photo/Elise Amendola

A Montreal woman is asking Canadian and Quebec public health officials to place adults with Down syndrome on a priority COVID-19 vaccination list.

Sarah Lusthaus, who is the mother of an adult over 40 with Down syndrome, launched an online petition on change.org to gather support for the initiative.

Trisomy 21, also known as Down syndrome, is a chromosomal condition that causes lifelong intellectual disability and developmental delays. It’s the most common genetic chromosomal disorder.

People with Down syndrome are a vulnerable group that has been completely forgotten in the current vaccination process, according to the petition.

Click to play video 'Down syndrome advocates push for vaccine priority citing increased health risks' Down syndrome advocates push for vaccine priority citing increased health risks
Down syndrome advocates push for vaccine priority citing increased health risks – Jan 29, 2021

The risk of contracting COVID-19 for adults living with Down syndrome is significantly higher, says Lusthaus in her petition. They also face a greater risk of being hospitalized and developing complications from the infection, as their genetic condition causes them to age prematurely, she adds.

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The petition points to other countries besides Canada that currently prioritize people with Down syndrome for vaccination against the coronavirus. The petition calls on Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, and Quebec’s national director of public health, Dr. Horacio Arruda, to reach the same conclusion.

The petition has already gathered around 1,600 signatures.